On Friday July 21st, two tourists were killed and nearly 500 others were injured during an earthquake that struck the Greek island of Kos, birthplace of Hippocrates, founding father of modern medicine. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake as being of magnitude 6.7, with Greek and Turkish estimates a fraction lower. A tremor measuring a preliminary 4.4 magnitude struck at 8:09 p.m. (1709 GMT) on Saturday, and sixteen minutes later, a second 4.6-magnitude tremor struck. Now, crews of experts have begun examining the damage to cultural monuments and infrastructure on the island.

[Ancient columns toppled over in the southern part
of the 2nd-century agora in the main town]

The culture ministry team sent to the island included the ministry general secretary Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, the supervisor, engineers and conservators from the Dodecanese Antiquities Ephorate, as well as the head of the Newer Monuments Service for the Dodecanese. They inspected the medieval Castle Nerantzia, the Casa Romana, the Hanji Hasan Mosque, the Nefterdar Mosque, the medieval fortifications, the archaeological museum and warehouses and the other monuments and sites in the town of Kos. The inspection revealed damage to sites around the town, especially to the castle and the Ottoman mosques.

The tremor also caused the movement and damage of exhibits, especially pottery, at the island’s archaeological museum and this will be temporarily closed until the damage is restored, the ministry said, along with the Casa Romana monument on the island. For the more contemporary monuments, there will be collaboration with the Kos municipality, the ministry added.

The archaeological site of the Kos Asklepieion will remain open, however, and for the period when the museum and the Castle on Kos will be closed, the culture ministry is arranging to open to the public certain archaeological sites that were previously closed to visitors.

A Central Service team from the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments Restoration directorate will go to Kos on Saturday and Monday in order to assess the situation and finalize the actions to be taken moving forward. In the mean time, preliminary protection measures will be taken and the monuments will be restored after due study.
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for The United Hellenismos Association! Together, they have raised $ 80,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!


The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before August 3rd. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
Very few heroes in ancient Hellas had quite the impact of Herakles. Both mythologically speaking and as a practical part of the religion, Herakles has a special place and he is honored during the Herakleia. Will you honor him with us on July 26th at the usual 10 am EDT?


Herakles was conceived by Zeus upon Alkmene, as He disguised Himself as her husband, returning early from war. Alkmene accepted Him in her bed gladly, as she was happy to see her husband again. When the real Amphitryon did return later that night, Alkmene realized what had happened, and told her husband. Amphitryon accepted her in his bed, regardless, and so she became pregnant with twins, one fathered by Zeus, and one by her mortal husband.

Hera, hearing of the affair, took an instant disliking to the unborn child. When it became time for Alkmene to give birth, Hera made Zeus swear a vow that a child born in the line of Perseus on this day would become King. Zeus agreed, and Hera hurried off to delay the birth of Herakles and Iphikles, and hurry along the birth of Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), grandson of Perseus. The two had unknowingly become part of a contest of wills between Zeus and Hera, to decide who would be the hero to drive off the last of the great monsters and pave the way for the Olympians.

Eventually, Hera was tricked into allowing the children born, as She would have postponed their delivery indefinitely. Alkmene, aware of the divine spark in one of her sons, took her distance from him, but the young Herakles was taken up by Athena and taken to Hera, who did no recognize the newborn nemesis of Her candidate, and took pity on him. She fed him from Her breast, but when he suckled so hard that he caused Her pain, She realized who he was, and cast him off. Athena rescued the infant and took him back to his mortal parents. Alkmene took him back and raised him with her husband.

Herakles was a strong child, so strong, in fact, that he inadvertently killed his music teacher Linos (Λῖνος) with a lyre, for which he was tried and found not guilty. He was still made to leave the city, however. Herakles set out to perform feats of strength, starting by defeating the lion of Kithairon, which had been a bane to his stepfather for far too long. Thespios, King of Thespiae, housed Herakles for fifty days as he hunted for the lion, and every night Thespios placed one of his fifty daughters in his bed, although Herakles thought he was only sleeping with one. Herakles eventually vanquished the lion. He dressed himself in the skin, and wore the scalp as a helmet. The Gods lavished him with gifts: a sword from Hermes, bow and arrows from Apollon, a golden breastplate from Hephaistos, and a robe from Athena. His famous club he made himself at Nemea.
Next, Herakles was drawn into a war between the Thebans and the Minyans. He happened upon heralds from King Klymenos, who had won a previous battle with Thebes and now demanded tribute from them. Herakles, who had been living in Thebes, cut the ears, noses and hands off of all but one of the heralds and told the last remaining one to take them back to his king as tribute. In the battle that followed, Herakles fought bravely with the king's army, and his side eventually won, earning him his wife Megara, eldest daughter of King Kreon of Thebes.
Due to Hera's jealousy, he was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Herakles to serve the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Herakles with these labors--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Herakles.

The Herakleia (Ἡράκλεια ἐν Κυνοσάργει, Herakleia en Kynosargei) were ancient festivals commemorating the death of Herakles. In Athens, the celebration was held just outside the city walls, in a sanctuary dedicated to Herakles. His priests were drawn from the list of boys who were not full Athenian citizens (nothoi, illegitimate children, like him) and were named 'parasitoi'. The Attic cults of Herakles were often closely connected with youth: at several of his cult sites there was a gymnasion attached, and there was a mythological tradition (perhaps originating in Boeotia) that after Herakles died he was taken up to Olympus, where he married Hebe, the personification of youth. Because of this, Herakles is sometimes worshipped as a God and sometimes as a dead hero.

In Thebes, the center of the cult of Herakles, the festivities lasted a number of days and consisted of various athletic and musical contests (agones), as well as sacrifices. They were celebrated in the gymnasium of Iolaus, the nephew and eromenos of Herakles, and were known as the Iolaeia. The winners were awarded brass tripods.

Will you join us in honoring Herakles on this day? You can join the community here and find the ritual here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • Absolutely no pressure (I don't even drink coffee, after all), but do you see that little link at the top of the page? That takes you to my brand new Ko-fi page. Once there, you can make a little donation--which would be nice, but Baring The Aegis is (and will always be) free! I would have liked to make it possible to donate a single dollar, but three dollars is the only option. Thank you in advance, if you are willing, and Gods bless!
  • A massive thank you to the people who've already bought me a coffee! Gods bless, truly!
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Hekatombaion:

Anything else?
The United Hellenismos Association has become Pandora's Kharis' Hekatombaion 2017 cause. The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.

The deadline to donate is today, July 24, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
I get a lot of questions from people coming into Hellenismos from a Neo-Pagan path. Very often, they are looking to honor the ancient Hellenic Gods in a more Traditional manner, and I applaud that! I recently receive another one such question, about Hekate specifically, but it contains many things I come across often, so I've decided to post the full reply on my blog today, with the parts I usually leave out, to maybe help other seekers along.


"Hello, I hope you are well. I have a question about Ækáti. I've know of Her for years, and She has tried to garner my attention many, many times. I'm in a place now where I am ready to approach Her, and I'm planning on following the traditional Hellenic ritual style, but I am new to the idea of Hellenismos. I'm wondering what I should expect, if anything, when approaching a deity of Ancient Hellas, especially a Titaness like Ækáti. Her reputation is definitely intense, and while I have worked with a figure of similar nature from European folklore, that figure was not a titan, nor so immense as Ækáti seems to be. There are plenty of people in the witchcraft tags who claim a relationship with Ækáti, but I want to know the perspective of someone who practices Hellenismos. I know Her cultus was fairly infamous in Ancient Hellas, and that she was and is most revered and favored by Zeus, all of which has me wanting to make sure I am respectful in approaching her. I've begun crafting up an incense for Her comprised of Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Laurel leaves, Henbane, and Mandrake as offering, and have the translation of the Orphic Hymn to Her (not the Taylor version, but the one closer to the word for word translation) to recite at the opening the rite. In your opinion, would this be a good way to begin?"




Khaire and welcome to Hellenismos and the worship of Hekate! I'm going to get to your questions, but let me start off by getting a few misconceptions out of the way. For one, I see you've found hellenicgods.org. "Ækáti" is a name for Her I have literally only seen from Callimachos and I have no explanation for why he chooses to use it. His approach to Hellenismos is entirely Orphic, so perhaps that's part of it, but I'd feel a whole lot better if you would either use the Greek Ἑκάτη or the English Hekate. It's up to you, of course, but since the request was for information about a Traditional approach to Her worship I wanted to put it out there.

I have another tiny personal pet-peeve to advise you on, if you don't mind: Taylor. Unlike Callimachos, I don't have a problem with his translations and I don't find them to be inferior at all. They convey the spirit of the hymn just as well as the version Callimachos preaches, and which I think he translated himself. It's a beautiful version, so don't be afraid to use it, but Hellenismos and the worship of the Gods in general is a matter of the heart, not the mind, and if the heart connects more with the Taylor (or any other) version over the literal translation, then go with that. A hymn should be recited--called out, shouted, proclaimed--with power and love: it's a call to the Gods that says: "I am here and I love you! Come to me, please, to accept Your offerings and listen to my pleas!". Find the translation that you connect with to your bones and you will be able to do that. Which translation that is, does not matter. Remember: worship of the Gods is about Them, not you.

...which brings me to something else I hear a lot from people who come to Hellenismos from a more general neo-Pagan worship: the dreaded "working with". If you want to practice Hellenismos in a Traditional manner, those two words together should be the first to get scrapped from your vocabulary.

Within Hellenismos, the Gods rule supreme. We are here to serve and honor Them, and in return, They provide us with what we need to survive. This practice is called "kharis" (loosely translated as ritual reciprocity) is one of the pillars of Hellenismos. Not complying with the will of the Gods is called "hubris". Hubris, in dictionary terms, means excessive pride or arrogance and comes from the Greek (hýbris, ὕβρις). For me, hubris is not an adjective but a verb. It describes the act of willful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods.

Human kind is said to be a step above animals because we have the ability to think about our actions and predict their consequences, but we are below the Gods, because we are mortal. Unlike the Gods, we do not plan centuries ahead; we have only a limited amount of time to live, and our actions reflect that. We are encouraged to use our ability to think logically about our actions and choose wisely. It's not wise to put yourself on the same level as the Gods--they are Gods, not our co-workers. You work with co-workers, not with Gods. You honor, worship, and subject yourself to Gods.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, I'll get to what you were actually asking about: Hekate. You might want to read this post in its entirety, but I'll summarize the bits that matter the most. Hekate's (Ἑκατη) worship was most likely imported from Thrace or Anatolia, where--especially at the latter--records were found of children being named after Her. This version of Her is single-faced, rules in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea, is a Theia of childbirth--to both animals and humans--and it is She who bestows wealth on mortals, victory, wisdom, good luck to sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the flocks of cattle. Yet, if mortals do not deserve Her gifts, she can withhold them from them just as easily. After the Titanomachy, Zeus bestowed upon Her the highest of honors. This is the Hekate found in Hesiod's Theogony, written around 700 BC.

It's is speculated that Hesiod hailed from a region where Hekate was heavily worshipped, and as such, his views upon Her power and stature were not reflected in the rest of Hellas, where other--Olympian--divinities took up her role--Artemis as the protector of animals, Nemesis as the administrator of justice, Selene as Theia of the moon, etc. As such, it was only logical that her power was dwindled down some--or, more accurately, focused--into darker territories like the night, the (new) moon, spirits, the underworld, and sorcery when her cult spread throughout Hellas.

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter--composed somewhere in the late seventh century BC or the sixth century BC--sets this in motion, making Her an Underworld Goddess, and giving Her a Khthonius character. She becomes linked to caves, to torches, to night, and the Underworld itself. This transitional Hekate--still a protector of youth, and a bringer of plenty, but a more mysterious Goddess, linked to both the upper- and lower world--aids Persephone by being a torchbearer to Her mother, and by watching over Persephone when She is in the Underworld. When it is time for Persephone to leave, it is Hekate who guides Her out. It is this Hekate that is linked to the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Hellenic tragedians felt drawn to the Khthonic side of Hekate, and slowly Hekate transformed into a Titan Goddess of the night, the moon, and (protection against) witchcraft, ghosts and necromancy. In this period, roughly around the fifth century BC, She also became the Goddess associated with crossroads. It is this Hekate that is appeased with the Deipnon, at the new moon: the last day of the month. These days, when the nights kept getting darker and darker, were some of the scariest days of the month, and were considered impure. The night when the moon completely disappeared was sacred to Hekate, as Hekate was able to placate the souls in Her wake, and could purify the household of miasma (spiritual pollution, you could say) accumulated during the month. Removing this miasma allowed the members of the household to call on Hekate during the following month in times of need and be more likely to have Her look favorably upon the supplicant.

As you can see, even much later in ancient Hellenic times, Hekate was not a Goddess who was "infamous", she was a much-honored household deity who protected the home and everything in it from outside and internal harm. She is kourotrophos (a protector of children) born into each and every single household, and helped Demeter get her daughter Kore (Persephone) back after Her abduction. She is a Goddess who brings luck and good fortune to households who honor Her faithfully and Her importance in Hellenismos cannot be overstated. It's because of this that I struggle a lot with this continual pigeonholing of Her as a Goddess of witchcraft. Literally her only link to witchcraft was that the ancient Hellenes feared it and they prayed to Hekate to protect their homes against it. That's it. To me it's vitally important that you know who Hekate was to the ancient Hellenes and that you understand how much her "image" has changed in the centuries that followed. If you want to honor Her Traditionally, you'll invest time in the "Hesiodic" version of her, which was the version of Her honored above all. The dark version of Her Callimachos describes on his website was not a version of Her that was honored in a widespread manner.

Now, as for worshipping Her: I describe the pantheon of Hellenic Gods like a tapestry. The major displays woven into it are undoubtedly the Olympians, but the fringes of the tapestry are just as colorful as the main display. They hold the “minor” Gods and Goddesses and the Gods who ruled before the Olympians. Without these, the tapestry would not only be plain, it would be threadbare. It’s my firm belief that it’s impossible to practice Hellenismos and only worship one or a handful of Gods. One must invest in at least the pursuit of knowledge about every single God or Goddess in our pantheon to fully grasp the parts you thought you already understood. Without the details of the tapestry, its full beauty can’t be appreciated, after all.

If you want to honor Hekate, honor Her parents as well, honor Zeus, whom She is very close to. Honor Demeter and Kore, honor Hermes whom is close to Her in Her khthonic persona, and if you honor Her in a specific aspect (kouroptrophos, for example), honor the other Goddesses and Gods who guarded over that aspect as well. What makes Hellenismos, Hellenismos, is that only very, very rarely (and I can't even think of one example) a deity is honored alone during a rite.

Your incense sounds lovely! Most, if not all the ingredients would be available to the ancient Hellenes, which is always good. Note that mandrake is slightly psychoactive, so don't use too much in your mixture to be safe. We don't have an incense recipe from ancient times with which Hekate was honored, so your guess is as good as mine!

I hope this helps you form and enjoy your worship of Her, and pray you may build kharis with Her and others steadily!
New buildings have come to light during excavation and restoration works conducted from May 30 to July 7, 2017 at the Sanctuary of Apollo on the uninhabited Greek island of Despotiko (Mantra site), on the west of Antiparos. This reports the Archaeological News Network, and they have many more pictures up on their website.


Systematic excavations at Despotiko have begun in 1997 and have brought to light one of the most significant archaeological sites of the Cyclades. The excavations are headed by archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades Yannis Kouragios. As in previous years, the 2017 dig was carried out thanks to kind financial support. ​The results of this excavation season are being considered extremely important for the topography of the sanctuary. Among this year’s findings, the fragment of a marble Kore figurine, dating back to the early Archaic period, part of the block with the foot of an archaic Kouros and a fragment of the leg of a Kouros stand out.

Investigations focused on the excavation of the building complex, which had been partially surveyed in 2016 (in particular, the area south of the Archaic sanctuary). This year, eight new rooms came to light, on the south and west side of this complex, although its boundaries have not been located yet.
The complex consists of 12 rooms and its total visible space is 180 square meters. The dimensions of the densely built-up rooms vary, but they all have the same orientation, with their entrances on the south. Some of them were most likely open-air spaces, such as courtyards or vestibules.

Based on the findings (an abundance of Archaic and Classical pottery) and some architectural elements, the excavator believes that the complex had functioned as a storage and accommodation space, demonstrating the fact that the sanctuary attracted many visitors and that it need to be expanded in order to accommodate the large numbers of worshippers up to the 4th c. BC.

Excavation work has also been conducted in the buildings which do not belong to the sanctuary. The investigation of Building B, already excavated in 2007 and 2013, has been completed. All its rooms were revealed, as well as its usage phases, dating back to the 7th c. BC, the first half of the 6th c. BC (the main usage phase of the building) and the late 6th c. BC.

On the northeastern end of the peninsula, close to the shore, another building (4.40×4.30 m) was located and excavated. Only its foundations are preserved. Its location and its ground plan suggest that it must have been an observatory or a tower.

The excavation findings were rich and various. Among them there are more than black-gazed lamps and 30 inscribed pottery fragments, shards of “Melian” amphorae and black-glazed kylikes, fragments of red-figure kraters with depictions of naked young men, vessels for everyday use, such as strainers, lekanes, jugs, salt containers, bowls etc., many metal objects (nails, bolts, hooks etc.).

The restoration works lasted 4 weeks. Two columns of the restaurant and their capitals have been put in place and preliminary work for the placement of a third column has been carried out. Also, the restoration of the walling in Buildings A and B has been completed.

Apart from the members of the scientific group, many students and archaeologists from universities in Greece and abroad have taken part in the investigations.

This post ties in with many more finds over the years, namely: Dig sheds light on Despotiko sanctuary, Skeleton of worker from 550 BC found on Cycladic island of Despotiko, Topography of Archaic sanctuary at Despotiko comes to light, and Despotiko excavation reveals more of the sanctuary of Apollon.
Last year, I made a post on aesthetics of the Hellenic Gods, taken from Tumblr. Because I don't repost artwork (and I will always link!), many of those are now missing, as you can see. So, time for an update! These are almost all from ars-aesthetica.















I have a very important deadline in eight days and my time to spend on anything but that is very limited. As such, I want t point you to a resource you might not know about. It's called Forgotten Books. Forgotten Books is a London-based book publisher specializing in the restoration of old books, both fiction and non-fiction. They have over 730.000 books available to read online, download as ebooks, or purchase in print, and many of those are related to ancient Hellas in some way.


Finding anything on Forgotten books can be a bit of a hassle, but I've got you covered. The easiest way to go through the books is to select a category and scroll from there. The ones of obvious interest are: Greco-Roman Philosophy, Mythology, and Art History.

Then there are the obvious searches that get you much closer to the content you're looking for right away: Greek Mythology, Greek Hymns, Greek Civilization, Greek Music, Greek Plays, and Greek Culture.

If that doesn't lead you to awesomeness right away, here are a few of my favorites: A Study of the Greek Paean (Arthur Fairbanks), The Religion of Ancient Greece & Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (Jane Ellen Harrison), and The Ancient Use of the Greek Accents in Reading and Chanting (G. T. Carruthers).

Enjoy your reading time!
Greece is issuing a circulating commemorative €2 coin to celebrate the ancient settlement of Philippi. A total of 750,000 of the coins are due for release in the second half of 2017. So what's this settlement and why is it important enough to feature on a coin?


Philippi, or Philippoi (Φίλιπποι) was a city in eastern Macedonia, in the Edonis region. Its original name was Krenides (Κρηνῖδες), meaning "Fountains". It was establishment by Thasian colonists in 360/359 BC. The city was renamed by Philip II of Macedon in 356 BC and would eventually be abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest. It was made a World Heritage Site in 2016.

The objective of conquering the town was to take control of the neighboring gold mines and to establish a garrison at a strategic passage: the site controlled the route between Amphipolis and Neapolis, part of the great royal route which crosses Macedonia from the east to the west and which was reconstructed later by the Roman Empire as the Via Egnatia. Philip II endowed the city with important fortifications, which partially blocked the passage between the swamp and Mt. Orbelos, and sent colonists to occupy it. Philip also had the marsh partially drained, as is attested by the writer Theophrastus. Philippi preserved its autonomy within the kingdom of Macedon and had its own political institutions (the Assembly of the demos). The discovery of new gold mines near the city, at Asyla, contributed to the wealth of the kingdom and Philip established a mint there. The city was fully integrated into the kingdom under Philip V. The city contained 2,000 people at the height of it Hellenic era. The most important (Hellenic and Roman) monuments of the site are:

The walls and the acropolis: The structure has two architectural phases: the first was built by Philip II and the second by Justinian I in A.D. 527-565. Inside the acropolis there is a tower dated to the Late Byzantine period.

The theatre, which was probably built by king Philip II around the middle of the 4th century B.C. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries it was overhauled to meet the demand in .

The Agora was the administrative center of Philippi in the Roman period. It is a complex of public buildings arranged around a central open square. The most imposing buildings are the North-East temple and the North-West temple.

Basilica A is a large, three-aisled basilica (130 x 50 meter) with transept aisle on the east side, a square atrium, and gallery over the aisles and the narthex. Fragments of the luxurious pavement and part of the ambo are preserved in the middle aisle. Particularly impressive are the frescoes that imitate orthostates (dados) in the porch of a chapel. Dated to the end of the 5th century A.D.

Basilica B is a three-aisled basilica dated to ca. 550 A.D. It has a narthex and annexes to the north and south (phiale, vestry). The almost square in plan, central aisle was covered with a vault supported by large pillars. This is the basilica portrayed on the coin.

Basilica C is another three-aisled basilica. It had luxurious marble inlays on the floor and rich sculptural and architectural decoration. The basilica is dated to the 6th century A.D.

The excavations on the site of Philippi began in 1914 by the French School of Archaeology at Athens. After the Second World War, excavations were resumed by the Greek Archaeological Service and the Archaeological Society. Nowadays, the archaeological exploitation of the site is carried out by the Archaeological Service, the Aristoteleian University of Thessaloniki and the French School of Archaeology at Athens. The finds from the excavations are housed in the Museum of Philippi.

An image of the archaeological site featuring part of Basilica B, and linear motifs inspired by a border pattern from an ancient Greek mosaic discovered at the site, appears on the obverse of the coin. Inscribed along the inner circle are Greek inscriptions translating to “Archaeological Site of Philippi” and “Hellenic Republic.” Also inscribed in the background is the year of issuance 2017 and to the right a palmette (the Mint mark of the Greek Mint). Visible at the lower left is the monogram of the artist, George Stamatopoulos.
I am very proud to announce that The United Hellenismos Association has become Pandora's Kharis' Hekatombaion 2017 cause now it's been pitched a second time!


The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.

The deadline to donate is July 24th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Hm. It seems I lied to someone recently. Or, at least, told them something that wasn't true. I get a lot of questions and I forgot who asked the question so this is for you, person who asked about mermaids. Turns out: there are mermaids in Hellenic mythology--at least locally so.

I recently came across this tiny snippet in Diodorus Siculus' "The Library of History":

"Now there is in Syria a city known as Ascalon, and not far from it a large and deep lake, full of fish. On its shore is a precinct of a famous goddess whom the Syrians call Derceto; and this goddess has the head of a woman but all the rest of her body is that of a fish, the reason being something like this. 3 The story as given by the most learned of the inhabitants of the region is as follows: Aphrodite, being offended with this goddess, inspired in her a violent passion for a certain handsome youth among her votaries; and Derceto gave herself to the Syrian and bore a daughter, but then, filled with shame of her sinful deed, she killed the youth and exposed the child in a rocky desert region, while as for herself, from shame and grief she threw herself into the lake and was changed as to the form of her body into a fish; and it is for this reason that the Syrians to this day abstain from this animal and honour their fish as gods." [4.2]

Well then! Derceto was new for me (trust me, I do not know everything about ancient Hellenic mythology, especially not local deities). It seems to be a different (local) name for Atargatis, the chief Goddess of northern Syria in Classical Antiquity. She's a protective Goddess as well as a fertility Goddess and her sanctuaries had ponds close by. The priests were the only ones allowed to take care of the fish in the ponds, and if I remember well, they were also the only ones allowed to touch them. Atargatis' worship did travel into ancient Hellas, but I am truly not sure how wide-spread Her worship was. I do know that the mermaid myth was local to Ascalon, not even extending to the other shrines of Atargatis.

So, there: mermaids in ancient Hellenic mythology. It's slim, but it's there. Sorry I can't let you know directly, person!
Frankincense is one of the mainstays of Hellenic worship. Orphism dictates it as primary incense offering for many of the Gods and it's mentioned in many ancient writings as a sacrifice. The rocky Cal Madow mountains of Somaliland, a self-declared autonomous republic in Somalia's northwest, are one of the few homes internationally to wild frankincense trees. One of the species located in the area is endemic and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Currently the trade is facing a crisis: interest in the natural product is rising at such a rate that trees cannot regenerate fast enough.


Frankincense is still very much used in religious ceremonies, but it is no longer only reserved for honoring deities. Multimillionaire markets such as the French perfume business count the tree fragrance among their top components. While local people in Somaliland have harvested frankincense for millenniums, the current rhythm to meet the global appetite for essential oils leaves few options for sustainability - and these ancestral forests cannot replenish fast enough to survive the current overharvesting. Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, president of the Somaliland Biodiversity Foundation, told DW:

"Frankincense has been harvested in a sustainable manner for millions of years, but the rise in the global demand has completely changed it. [No longer being able to harvest sustainably] will be a disaster not only for the people of Somaliland, but for the whole world. It will be the end of unique species and of a millenarian heritage."

In the last six years, the price per kilogram of raw frankincense has shot up from one to around 6 US-dollars. With Somaliland suffering one of the worst droughts across the Horn of Africa region and with a rate of rural poverty of around 40 percent, it isn't hard to imagine why local people keep jeopardizing their forests and their lives. But while this might work for local people in the short-term, it could be disastrous in the coming years.

Harvesting in an unsustainable way means making a higher number of cuts per tree to extract as much sap as possible and tapping the trees year-round rather than seasonally. These practices weaken the trees, impede them from recovering and, ultimately, means they end up dying.

To avoid a point of no return, Awale said the first main goal is to raise awareness among the affected communities. With this aim environmental groups are working together with governmental agents and local communities, not only to inform but also to find much-needed solutions. Each local community should be able to impose their own regulations and decide on their own means of sustainability, but for this, they need support:

"The communities understand the gravity of the situation, but it is very complicated to find solutions due mainly to economic problems. We encourage our government and development agencies to intervene in the area and help those communities finding a sustainable way of livelihood."

The Gods who were offered frankincense within Hellenismos in the Orphic tradition: Ares; Boreas; Corybas; the Kourêtes; Dikaiosynê; Dike; Fortune; Helios (+ manna); Hēphaistos (+ manna); Herakles; Hermes; Mnemosyne; the Muses; Notos; Ouranos; Tethys; Themis; the Titans; Zephyros; and Zeus (+ manna).
John William Waterhouse was an English painter known for working in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was alive from 1849 to 1917 and was fascinated with Ancient Hellas. Early on in his artistic career, he began focusing on the creation of large canvas works depicting scenes from the daily life and mythology of ancient Hellas. His work has always appealed greatly to me. His "Magic Circle" was probably thirty percent responsible for my interest in witchcraft, and to this day, his depictions of ancient Hellenic mythology and life are what comes to mind when I picture these. I am a little shocked his work has never featured on my blog before, so let me correct that today with a selection of my favorites.


Ulysses and the Sirens (1891)

Hylas with a Nymph (1893)

Hylas and the Nymphs (1896)

Echo and Narcissus (1903)

A Sick Child brought into the Temple of Aesculapius (1877)

Consulting the Oracle (1884)
The 23th of Hekatombaion is traditionally the first night in a week long series of events that make up the Panathenaia festival. This birthday celebration of the city of Athens and grand honoring of Athena was one of ancient Athens' highlights and people would have flocked there from afar to take part. Will you take part as well during two days of the event, namely the first and last? The first event will take place on the 16th of July and the second on the 24th of July. For details on the times, see below.


The Panathenaia was an Athenian festival celebrated every year in honor of the Goddess Athena. The Lesser Panathenaia (Panathenaia ta mikra) was an annual event, while the Greater (Panathenaia ta megala) was held every four years and assimilated the practices of the Panathenaia ta mikra into itself. The set date for the festival was from the 23rd to the 29th of Hekatombaion and the festival was similar, in practice, to the Olympic Games but it had its own unique elements as well. In short, The Panathenaia was the 'birthday of the city' and referred to Athens. The actual practice was very involved but usually included:

- a procession from outside of the city walls to the Acropolis
- the hanging of a new (and elaborately woven) garment on the shoulders of the statue of Athena inside the Parthenon, named a Peplos.
- a torch race
- an all-night service called the Pannychos
- a large offering (and ritual slaughter) of a hundred cows in honor of Athena
- a meat meal for everyone at the city's expense
- during the Panathenaia ta megala, wrestling competitions, athletic competitions, chariot races and many other horse-based games were also held. The Panathenaia was known for its boat races.

The athletic contests included foot races, wrestling, boxing, pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing), pentathlon (five-event contest: stade race, javelin-throw, discus throw, long jump, and wrestling), four-horse chariot and two-horse chariot races, horseback race, javelin-throw from horseback, apobatês race, pyrrhic dancing, euandria (physical fitness or beauty contest), torch relay race, and boat race.  All these events, except for the torch and boat races, were held in each of three age categories: boys (12-16), ageneios (16-20), and men (20+) and took place in the Agora until 330 BCE when a stadium was built in the outskirts of Athens.

Boat races were not typically part of Greek athletic festivals, but they may have found a place in the Panathenaic festival because of Athena's connection with boat-building. Pyrrhic dancing, physical fitness, torch relay race, and boat races were tribal competitions restricted to Athenian citizens, whereas even non-Athenians took part in the track and field and equestrian events.  Except for the four last-named contests, the prizes (for first and second place only) were varying numbers of amphoras filled with olive oil. The olive tree and its fruit were sacred to Athena and the oil was a very valuable commodity in the ancient world used for cooking, as soap, and as fuel for lamps.  The winning athletes normally sold their prize oil for cash. Besides the everyday usefulness mentioned above, olive oil was in great demand by administrators of the numerous athletic festivals throughout the Greek world. Athletes rubbed themselves with olive oil before competition and scraped it off afterwards with a metal device called a stlengis.

As an indication of value, in the fourth century B.C. the prize for the victor in the stade race (a 600 ft. long foot race) in the men's category was 100 amphoras of olive oil. In terms of today's dollar, the olive oil would be worth at a minimum $39,000 and the amphoras, which held the oil, about $1600.  Greeks from other cities were allowed to compete in all the athletic contests among individuals.  The competitions among tribes were limited to Athenians.

The two-mile torch relay race with four runners from each of the ten Athenian tribes was run from the altar of Eros outside the Dipylon gate to the Acropolis. The object was to win the race without causing the torch to go out.  The winning tribe received a bull and 100 drachmas. The fire of the winning torch was used to light the sacrificial fire on the great altar of Athena on the Acropolis. The torch race was part of an all-night (pannychos) celebration also involving music and dancing on the night before the most important day of the festival when the procession and sacrifice took place. The apobatês race and the boat race closed out the festival contests.

Three musical contests involved singers accompanying themselves on kithara (kitharôidos), singers accompanied by an aulos (a reed wind instrument similar to a clarinet or oboe), and aulos players.  The prizes for these contests were crowns (for first place winners only) and cash. For example, the first prize for the kithara-singer was an olive crown in gold worth 1,000 drachmas (at least $32,000 and 500 silver drachmas (at least $16,000).

Reciters called rhapsodes (literally, 'stitchers of song') competed at public festivals in the recitation of epic poetry, in particular the Homeric poems and other poems belonging to the Epic Cycle. They performed without musical accompaniment. Prizes are unknown.

The great procession the Panathenaia was known for assembled before dawn in the following order:

- four little girls carrying a peplos for the life-size statue of Athena Polias 
- priestesses of Athena and Athenian women carrying gifts 
- sacrificial animals (bulls and sheep) for the communal meals of thanksgiving
- metics (resident aliens), wearing purple robes and carrying trays with cakes and honeycombs for offerings 
- musicians playing the aulos and the kithara
- a colossal peplos (for Athena Parthenos) hung on the mast of a ship on wheels 
- old men carrying olive branches
- four-horse chariots with a charioteer and fully armed man (apobatês) 
- craftswomen (ergastinai - weavers of the peplos) 
- infantry and cavalry 
- victors in the games 
- ordinary Athenians arranged by deme

The procession made its way on the Panathenaic Way through the Agora towards the Acropolis.  Some sacrifices were offered on the Areopagus and in front of the temple of Athena Nikê next to the Propylaea (Gateway). Only Athenian citizens were allowed to pass through the Propylaea and enter the Acropolis. The procession passed the Parthenon and stopped at the great altar of Athena in front of the Erechtheum. Each year a newly woven peplos (robe) was taken by the craftswomen (ergastinai) into the Erechtheum and placed on a life-size old wooden statue of Athena Polias ('Guardian of the City'), while every four years in the Great Panathenaea, an enormous peplos was taken to the Acropolis for Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin) in the Parthenon. This peplos was so large that it was carried on the mast of a ship on wheels (like a float in a modern parade). The connection between the ship and Athena is unknown, but the use of a ship to carry the peplos must have seem appropriate in the fifth century after Athens had built the great fleet with which it dominated a large part of the Aegean world. This was followed by a huge animal sacrifice at the Athena's altar and representatives from each deme in Attica, chosen by lot, enjoyed a meat banquet along with bread and cakes.

The rituals the Panathenaia can be found here. The first day includes a torch-lit procession (which can also be conducted with a wind light or electric candle) and libations to Athena in Her many forms related to the Panathenaia. It can be performed either in the night of the 16th of July or the daylight hours of the 17th (the 17th is the encouraged time). The ritual for the last day of the Panathenaia  honors Athena, Zeus, Agathos Daimon, Hera, Poseidon, and Hestia. We will be performing it at 10:00 AM EDT on the 24th of July. If you would like to join our group for the event, please go here.
In the southern Sinai peninsula, at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Saint Catherine Monastery stands as one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. Recent restoration work inside the majestic building has revealed a 1,500-year-old manuscript that contains an ancient medical recipe derived from the research of the famous Hellenic physician Hippocrates.


Mohammed Abdel-Latif, assistant minister of antiquities for archaeological sites, explained that the discovered document is one of those known as 'Palmesit' manuscripts, dating to the 6th century AD. The manuscript is written on vellum, which is stretched leather--labirious and expensive to produce at the time and thus often reused, as was the case here.

The manuscript contains a medical recipe that the researchers attribute to Hippocrates, in addition to three other medical recipes written by an anonymous scribe, one of which contains drawings of medicinal herbs of the Greek recipe. The second layer of the book features extracts from the Bible known as 'Sinaitic manuscript' from the medieval eras.

The text was examined by researchers at the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL), which has an ongoing partnership with St. Catherine's Monastery. EMEL uses spectral imaging to read palimpsests. The technique is able to reveal the text hidden beneath the second layer of text in the manuscript, thus revealing what can't be seen with the naked eye. Speaking with Egyptian newspaper Asharq Al-Aswat, Michael Phelps, a researcher at the EMEL, stated:

"With a modern adaptation, we read a Greek text that dates back to the sixth century. The manuscript, which contains three medical texts, will be enlisted among the oldest and the most  important manuscripts in the world."

The region, which sits in a relatively remote part of the desert, was first used in the 3rd or 4th centuries by hermits and religious scholars. Since the walls and church surrounding the historic location were constructed in the 6th century, the monastery has been inhabited by monks ever since. A small number of monks live and work in the monastery today where they observe practices unchanged for the past centuries.

The library itself contains an estimated 3,300 manuscripts that are primarily written in Greek; however, texts written in Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Syriac, Georgian, Arabic, and Latin have been recovered as well.

The actual text that was recovered has not yet been released, as far as I am aware, but if I (or anyone else) comes across it, I'll put it up.
The Anthologia Palatina (or Palatine Anthology) is a collection of Hellenic poems and epigrams discovered in 1606 in the Palatine Library in Heidelberg. It is based on the lost collection of the 10th century Constantine Cephalas, which was composed using older anthologies. It contains material from the 7th century BC until 600 AD. There are some beautiful hymns in the text and I'd like to share a selection with you today to use in your own rites.


A Lover’s Lyre for Aphrodite
Author and date unknown

Leontis stayed awake until the lovely Dawn-star rose,
Taking her delight in golden Sthenius. From her
This lyre, which was tuned with the Muses’ aid, has been hung up
For Cypris, ever since that all-night revel came to an end. [5.201]

~~~

Sailors’ Appeal to Poseidon
Alpheius of Mytilene (1st cent. CE)

O Lord of Horses, you who hold sway over
Swift-traveling ships and over Euboea’s mighty
Overhanging crags, please grant to us,
Who pray to you, a voyage with favoring breeze
All the way to Ares’ city, now that
We have loosed our stern-hawsers from the Syrian shore. [9.90]

~~~

In Praise of Aphrodite
Philip of Thessalonica (1st cent. CE)

Hail, Paphian goddess!  For all mortals,
Whose lives are but a day, pay honor always
To your power, your immortal beauty,
And your majesty which breeds desire,
In all their beauteous words and beauteous works.
For you make known the honor you possess
To everyone, and everywhere on Earth. [13.1]

~~~

Pan, Guardian of Mountain Springs
Author and date unknown

We revere Pan-
Pan, who climbs the precipices-
Pan, who bears two horns-
Pan, leader of the Nymphs-
Pan, who cares for this house carved from rock;
We pray that he be gracious to all of us
Who have come to this spring of ever-flowing water
And driven our thirst away. [9.142]

~~~

A Plea to Artemis
Nossis, date unknown

O Artemis, holder of Delos and lovely Ortygia,
entrust your holy bow to the laps of the Graces,
bathe your pure skin in the Inopos, and come to Lokris
to free Alketis from painful labor-pangs. [6.273]
Guys, I am just going to share this story verbatim, because uhhh...just read. Here is the source, over at The National Herald. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry, or if I should be impressed or not, but I just know you'll enjoy it as much as I did because of reasons.

[ Dr. Alexander Alemis' photograph of the Acropolis with
the mysterious face. Copyright Alexander G. Alemis]

"This amazing photograph clearly shows the face of a bearded man with a leaf crown or headband.
Does this face resemble that of the old wise man of Greece? Zeus? Or Poseidon?

The mystery deepens as you can see another face behind the ear that appears to be looking in another direction and possibly additional faces farther to the right and a large one in the middle of the picture.
In April 2017, Dr. Alexander G. Alemis went to Athens, Greece, to present his new book, Political Systems and their Relationship to the Economy and Freedom.

One of Dr. Alemis’ many interests is photography. He likes taking unique photographs as he sees things from different angles. This photo though, which he took in Athens on April 23, 2017, is incredibly special. He took a picture of the Acropolis Rock from a certain spot which revealed the faces in the rock formation for possibly the first time in history.

At Dr. Alemis’ request, I researched the Internet for anything relating to the face of the Acropolis and found nothing. Subsequently, we put it on Facebook, but besides the accolades and admiration for the picture, we received no evidence of this face or faces being known.

Dr. Alemis talked to two archeologists in Greece who have done extensive study of the Acropolis and its history but had never seen or read about the faces of the Acropolis.

But how is this possible that for 2,500 years no one has discovered these faces? When Dr. Alemis first showed me this picture and asked me to send it for copyright I thought he was pulling my leg. As he showed me the rest of the pictures and the vantage point from where he took this picture from, I was shocked.

This finding is incredible on three fronts:
1. That it was not discovered, documented nor studied all these years. Keep in mind, the Acropolis is probably the most photographed monument in the world.
2. How Dr. Alemis discovered it: He told me approximately 20 things had to happen for him to be there that morning on April 23rd. None of those events were planned, including the incident where one of his staff decided to switch seats with Dr. Alemis during brunch that morning, which caused him to see the face on the rock.
3. Most importantly, the questions it raises: Who could have carved this huge face on the rock at the exact corner of the Acropolis? What equipment did they use? Was the face or faces carved prior or after the Parthenon? If prior, what other faces were also carved, which have already been destroyed, and for what purpose? If the faces were carved prior to the Parthenon, what technology was used and is the Parthenon a lesser monument? In as such, this finding has the possibility of changing history.

Dr. Alemis will be going back to Greece this fall to present his new book The 63 Parts of Intelligence and will get more data about this view, but if any readers of The National Herald have any information about the face or faces of the Acropolis, please email: marketing@familydentalcare.com.
Dr. Alemis is the founder of the Family Dental Care group. He is an international speaker and writer. You can visit him at www.dralemis.com.

By Steven J. Korbel, Marketing Director for Upstat Dental Solutions in Chicago."
Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, Russia, Italy, Spain and the Ukraine. But, of course, there were ancient Hellenic cities in modern day Greece too that no longer exist today. One of these is Mieza.

[Can't find it? Little left and below of center,
under "Bottia"]

At the foot of mount Vermio in Central Macedonia, Greece, excavations brought to light and continue to reveal the remains of an ancient city, which is identified with Mieza, one of the major cities of the Macedonian kingdom the period of its prosperity (4th to 2nd century BC). There are numerous references for Mieza at ancient literary sources, most notably Plutarch's information that near the ancient city lay Nymphaion, in the shady paths of which Aristotle taught the young Alexander the Great.

[Excavations of the "Aristotle School" near Naousa]

Mieza was a rural community that transformed into an urban center, then into a prosperous and wealthy city of the Hellenistic period. The most valuable archaeological evidence derives from the cemeteries and burial monuments of the area, which preserved the second most significant complex of Macedonian tombs after the royal tombs of Vergina. A total of six Macedonian tombs were found along the course of the road that in antiquity led from Pella to Mieza. They bear all the typical features of the monumental Macedonian tombs, they namely are subterranean vaulted structures with a temple-like façade and one or two burial chambers. Most often the internal surfaces, as well as the façade bear painted decoration and it is noteworthy that the murals of the Macedonian tombs are so far the only preserved examples of the large-scale ancient Greek painting. The tombs used to be covered with soil to form a hill and formed the resting places of the royal dynasty.

[Facade of the "Tomb of Judgment"]

Perhaps the most important amongst all known Macedonian tombs is the Tomb of Judgement (late 4th - early 3rd century BC), one of the largest and most imposing monuments of its kind. Unique is the exterior of the tomb articulated by a two-storey façade which combines the Doric order in the lower half and the Ionic in the upper half respectively. Among the Doric half-columns flanking the door of the tomb are four paintings, depicting Hermes Psychopompos leading the dead to the Judges of the Underworld. The Doric metopes depict scenes of the Kentauromakhy while the war scene of the Ionic frieze with its relief figures represents one of the historic battles of Greeks and Persians.

[Fresco from the Tomb of Judgment showing Hermes Psychopompos]

Outside the perimeter of the ancient city, along the contemporary rural road that leads from Kopanos to Naoussa, lies the idyllic site of Isvoria. The lush landscape with the plenty waters and natural caves on the rocks was an ideal place for worshipping the Nymphs in antiquity. The scattered architectural parts of a rock-hewn Ionic stoa, dated after the mid-4rth century BC, were associated with the ancient descriptions and led to the identification of a significant site: the very school of Aristotles, where the young prince Alexander studied under the great philosopher.

[Painting from the Tomb of Lyson and Kallikles (2nd BC)]

The ancient city itself consists of disperse building complexes, though its boundaries cannot yet be delineated with precision. The architectural remains belong mainly to buildings of a public character and it’s most likely that the nucleus of the ancient city, namely its agora, lay at the present rural site of Belovina at Kopanos, where the theatre also came to light. The theatre dates to the Late Hellenistic period, though the form in which it is preserved today belongs to the Roman times. It was built on a hillside with a panoramic view over the valley and its capacity is estimated at 1500 spectators. The prosperity of Mieza is also reflected in the luxurious villas of the Hellenistic and Roman times. Among the best preserved examples are the two Roman villas at Tsifliki of Lefkadia and Baltaneto of Naoussa respectively, with splendid mosaic floors dated to the 2nd century AD.
The Temple of Apollon on the island of Ortygia in Siracusa, is a Hellenic temple dating from the 6th century BC. It's the oldest known Doric temple in Western Europe. An inscription says that the temple honors Apollon, but after Cicero came to Syracuse, he wrote that the temple was dedicated to Artemis. Regardless, the temple was eventually devoted to neither: it was turned into a Byzantine church and then the Muslims took over and converted it into a mosque. Later, under Norman rule, it was turned back into a church. Today the building is in ruins, but its imposing size is still evident - 58 x 24 m or 190 x 70 ft. It occupies a large part of Piazza Pancali. The dedication inscription is on the top step of the base.

Needless to say, the temple didn't survive in one piece, not even in several pieces. It's entirely lost to us. Well...not entirely. We have a 3D recreation now and hot damn, is it an impressive sight! Can you imagine walking out of the hot summer sun into the cool temple and raising your hands to Apollon (or Artemis)? Because I can! And Gods, do I wish we could!


For Hekatombaion 2017, we have two great causes to choose from, submitted by our members. One focusses on Hellenismos and the preservation of the ancient monuments, the other focusses on the rights and protection of people with disabilities in the US.


United Hellenismos Association
The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.


ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.


Do you have a favorite out of these two? Vote for it in our poll until June 15th. We will announce this month's winner on July 17th, 2017.
Aristotle (Ἀριστοτέλης) was an ancient Hellenic philosopher and scientist bwho lived from 384 BC to 322 BC. At seventeen or eighteen years of age, he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. His combined works form the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy.

Philosophy, to Aristotle, was not limited to ethics. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government. All those together, he believed, formed what could be perceived with the senses and thus made up the world.

I want to talk about government today--not for any specific reason, but the world being what it is, can you blame me for having a political focus? Ancient Hellas went through quite a few political reforms in its day. Since the whole of Hellas was large, complicated and impossible to summarize, let's focus on Athens. From ~1500 to ~1000 BC, it was ruled by legendary kings. Then a system of archontai was put into practice. The archontai did not rule as kings; where kings were sole rulers of the city state, archontai ruled first in threes, then in nines, then in tens and their power did not extend to law-making. Indeed, the Athenians had a clear understanding of the difference between sovereign power and executive government, and they kept the two separate far more than any modern government.

The system started with three archons: the 'Archōn Epōnymos' (ἄρχων Ἐπώνυμος), the 'Polemarchos' (πολέμαρχος), and the 'Archōn Basileus' (Ἄρχων Βασιλεύς). Together, these three oversaw the tasks the ancient kings had carried alone.

- The Archōn Epōnymos was the chief magistrate. He was in charge of the affairs of Athens' citizens. He served as an ancient mayor for the city, and the year was named after him.
- The Polemarchos--in the early days--was charged with all affairs of war. The entire army fell to him, and it was up to him to make military decisions for the whole of the city-state. As we will see later on, this part of his job was transfered to the 'stratēgoí' when it became too large a job for one man. From that time on, he would be in charge of the city's métoikos, the resident aliens. He became a mayor in his own right, but for anyone not citizen or slave.
- The Archōn Basileus were the spiritual inheritors of the mythic kings of Athens. Most notably, the Archon Basileus was in charge of religious and artistic festivals.

As Athens grew, it became impossible for three men to take on this job on their own. Six others were commissioned. These were the Thesmothétai (Θεσμοθέται), 'junior' archons, who worked at the thesmotheteion. A tenth position was added to the árchōntes (ἄρχοντες) around the fifth or fourth century BC. It was called the 'Grammateîs' (γραμματεῖς) and he who took up the role, served as a secretary with a large variety of tasks.

Originally the árchōntes were chosen from the 'eupatridae'--those who were 'good fathered'--by elections every ten years, but after 508 BC the titles were held for only a single year. Other changes came in 487 BC, when the archonships became assigned by lot to any citizen, and the Polemarchos' military duties were taken over by a new class of generals known as 'stratēgoí' (στρατηγοί). The ten stratēgoí were elected from the ten tribes of Athens, and the office of Polemarchos was rotated among them on a daily basis. The Polemarchos himself had only minor religious duties from that point forward, as well as titular headship over the stratēgoí. When democracy was instituted in Athens, the Archōn Epōnymos remained the titular head of state, although his position became a lot less important.

Slowly, ancient Athens became a democracy, but it was a lot different than the democracy of modern times. In fact, I think the ancient Hellenes would have raised an eye-brow or two if someone were to tell them about our modern ideas about democracy. Ancient Athens was ruled by an ekklesia of about 25,000 voting citizens. The ekklesia, in turn, was managed by the boule of 500 citizens, taken from the ranks of the ekklesia. The boule, finally, was managed by 50 members of the boule, called the prytaneis. Everyone in the ekklesia voted, but their votes were tallied by the boule-members of their tribe, who related the votes to the prytanis of their tribe, who then tallied and proclaimed the votes.

Very roughly measured, about a quarter of the inhabitants of ancient Athens were eligible to vote. At the height of ancient Athens, this would have constituted about 25,000 men. 6,000 were needed before any vote even went up. On slow days, serfs who were part of the Scythian Guard literally wrangled citizens(!) into the halls, with a rope smeared with red ochre--called a 'miltos'--to get enough bodies in the seats. The árchōntes didn't factor into lawmaking at all.

Aristotle wasn't a fan of democracy--or rather, he was afraid of what it could lead to. In his writing, he distinguishes between good and bad forms of ruling in all the basic systems; thus there are good and bad forms of the rule by one (monarchy), a few (oligarchy and aristocracy), or many (democracy).

For Aristotle, democracy is not the best form of government. In a democracy, rule is by and for the needy. This is also true of oligarchy and monarchy, according to him. In contrast, rule of law or aristocracy (literally, power of the best) or even monarchy, where the ruler has the interest of his country at heart, are better types of government. Government, Aristotle says, should be by those people with enough time on their hands to pursue virtue.

The problem, according to Aristotle, lies in the following: citizens, kings and nobility rely on the government to thrive. They all have stakes in what the government must do in order for them to succeed, so when they vote, they vote with their own interest at heart. Take, for example, taxes. A business owner wants taxes to go down. Someone in the employee of the government (or under contract of the government) relies on tax money for his income so he doesn't want them to go down. If a law must come to pass about a raise in taxes, they will vote opposite each other and cancel each other out sheerly because of how much money they'd stand to gain from the outcome, not because of what good a tax increase would do for the state.

Aristotle wanted an aristocracy: a form of government that places power in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The idea is that the aristocrats have  enough time on their hands to pursue virtue, not just personal gain. Of course, this assumes that the aristocracy does, indeed, consist of the best qualified citizens and that they are of good character. According to Aristotle, they would have had to prove themselves first as virtuous people before being allowed to lead the state.

There is something to say for Aristotle's views: when a system like this is implemented, you can theoretically avoid the issues of greed and selfishness so abundant within voting and selecting representatives to speak for you in politics. It allows laborers to labor and statesman to lead the state. Of course, if you don't like where the government is leading the country toward, you're not in a position to interfere--which is exactly the point: the aristocracy is assumed to do what is best for the state in all ways and at all costs. You, as a citizen, must trust in their decisions.

It's something entirely foreign to us today because, quite frankly, we don't trust the people we vote into office. But what if we did? What if we put the best of the best in there? The smartest, kindest, brightest of the lot: Nobel prize winners, scientists, strategists, thinkers and doers who lead (small or large) movements now that could make the world whole if funded well enough? What if they ruled the world? Would we trust them to decide for us? Not as countries, but as a global population? We could get rid of money, heal the ecosystem, solve the refugee crisis, end world hunger, cure diseases for which research can't be funded at the moment because we have small economies to keep going.

If these people came up with a plan that would solve all of the issues plaguing us (I am not saying they could, but if. If.), would we trust them to do it? I fear we, as a society, would be too jaded, to self-absorbed. But maybe within a few generations, it could be done. Say five generations, 100 years. We went from the industrial revolution to now in about 200, and we already have a network of global communication and transportation in place.

I understand Aristotle's views. Fear, anger and greed literally rule the world these days. Breaking that would require radical, political change. An aristocracy of the best and brightest might not be the worst idea to have come out of ancient Hellas, I'd say...